Hear the Bells

I heard the bells

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:19-24 (NIV)

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem during the Civil War that provides the lyrics for the Christmas song I heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Longfellow lost both his son and wife toward the end of the war. Longfellow penned his ache—an ache intensified by the joys of Christmas.

For many, the joy of Christmas shines a bright light on their pain. It’s a reminder of those who aren’t here to share the joy. It’s a reminder that another year is about to end and once more, goals are left unattained. For some Christmas is a painful reminder of childhood hurts. For others the commercialization of Christmas fuels their feelings of inadequacy.

As I listen to the news, it seems Longfellow, if he was still alive, could write the same poem today. The quiet despair of financial burden, the uneasiness that seems to lurk in the shadows of everyday life, and the blatant unrest of war, and stressed race and socioeconomic relationships all seem to outshout the angel’s cry of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to men.

Longfellow and the writer of Laminations seem to have the same thought process. Bitterness, despair, and pain—all easy to remember—all easily displace joy, hope and peace.

Notice, both writers change tone half way through their writing.

Hate may seem strong. Wrong may mock the song of peace and goodwill. Your pain may cause you to question God’s goodness and motive. You may feel caught in a churning pool of unrest. As real as those situations are and as intense as your emotions feel, can I offer you something just as real and just as intense?

Hope.

I’ve lived in the churning waves of uncertainty. I’ve lived in the pain of not enough—both love and money. I’ve lived many days when I wondered why God had forgotten me or decided simply to not listen to my cries for help. I went to sleep on nights knowing the next day would offer no consolation to my pain. I don’t speak the words of hope glibly.

In all those days, when the question, “Why?” had no answer—God’s Word offered hope. It’s because of God’s love we are not consumed. The often-quoted prophetic passages from Isaiah take on a deeper meaning when one looks at the circumstances surrounding them. When despair and hopelessness come to mind, hold on to Isaiah’s prophetic promise—with both hands!

Isaiah begins with a great transition sentence:

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever.

The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For You will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as You did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders.  And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen! Isaiah 9:1-7 (NLT)

Father, the world needs an extra helping of hope today. When I begin to despair and feel helpless remind me of Your glorious promise—there IS hope in You. Heal the hurt, comfort the unrest, strengthen my faith. Help me look to You for peace and hope.

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Giving Up on Christmas

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Christmas is 3 days away!

Join me in giving up!

 

 

 

That’s not advice I usually give—but as I get older it seems I’m more likely to offer it. I figure, if it’s not done by now, it’s not getting done. I’ve decided to let it go and simply enjoy the last few days of the year!

Special thanks to all who have supported me this year by posting comments, sharing my posts on Facebook and email. It may not seem like a big deal to you—but your comments certainly are a HUGE deal. I feel honored when you share my work with your friends. Thanks.

Special, SPECIAL, thanks to all who have purchased copies of my books.

If you planned to get one to give as a gift for Christmas—never fear! What do people do in January? That’s right—make New Year’s resolutions. There are 2, one-month devotionals and one 3-month devotional (which is the best bargain!) You have plenty of time to order one for you or a friend(s) and get the year started off right.

Psychologists tell us it only take 13 days to develop a habit—after 30 days—you’ll have a devotional habit well established.  So gear up to get started!

My books are available on Amazon and would make great gifts—especially Ozzy’s book A Clever Disguise—it’s priced for gift giving and perfect for the person who loves dogs but might be put off by religion—it’s a book about grace!

In the mean time—catch up on the posts from the past week! I’m not giving up on writing posts—so plan on coming back tomorrow!

Monday: Had I read this all my life and missed the point?

Tuesday: Remember, Joseph still had not read this story.

Wednesday: My mom was a saint.

Thursday: There are some people conspicuously absent from the story of Jesus’ birth…

Friday: That makes God very different.

Saturday: Have you wondered why Jesus came into the world unrecognizable?

See you tomorrow!

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A Different Kind of Savior

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He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.   He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.   But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.   They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

(John 1:10-13 NLT)

 

Have you wondered why Jesus came into the world unrecognizable?

Jesus wasn’t looking for an entourage. He didn’t need groupies. He was not interested in people following Him just because He could heal them or meet their needs. He did not have an open call for His fan club.

Jesus did have a group of friends that He mentored. From that group of friends He had a close circle. In His close circle, he had one “beloved” friend. Jesus did have a following. He did heal the sick and meet the needs of those in distress. Some days He had a fan club, other days He slipped away from those so threatened by Him they wanted to harm Him.

People tend to idolize other people. Those with athletic skill, the beautiful, the rich, the powerful; we want to be around them or associated with them. The uncoordinated, the unattractive, the poor, regular guy; no one clamors for their attention.

Except Jesus.

Jesus took the approach opposite of what you’d expect. He slipped in quietly, almost unnoticed then moved from town to town, and place to place with His small band of friends.  The crowds He gathered were the sick, lame, outcast, the “tax collectors and sinners.” Wherever Jesus went he drew a crowd.

The religious folks stayed at arm’s length. Threatened, they rejected Him. Unwilling to accept a king who would stoop to His people, they discarded the Savior who came to them.

As I shake my head and sigh at those who didn’t recognize Jesus, who despised and rejected Him, I have to check myself. Certainly if those people had known it was Jesus they would have thrown open the doors and welcomed Him with pot-lucks and parties. Then I think of how I despise and reject others created by Him in His image. I think of how hard it is to act in love. I know I would have been looking for a different savior.

What Jesus always sought were true worshippers. To those who believe and accept Him as the humble king of love He is, they are entitled to be called the Children of God. It’s not your performance, social standing, gender, or wealth; it’s your ability to accept Him, this king in disguise.

Father, take the blindness from my eyes. Help me to see what true worship is. Help me to see those who need Your sweetness. Thank you for coming for me when I was not able to come to you. Thank you for taking my sin away. Teach me who You are.

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The Christmas Spectacle

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We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in Him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, He organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—He is supreme in the end. From beginning to end He’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is He, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in Him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of His death, His blood that poured down from the cross. Colossians 1:15-20 (MSG)

Anyone who has seen Me (Jesus) has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show Him to you? John14:9b (NLT)

The little baby in the manger is Immanuel; God with us.

Paul worked it out for the Colossian believers. Jesus told His disciples plainly. God is invisible; Christ came to make the invisible, visible. Christ came to be a spectacle. To show a finite creation what an infinite God is like.

What an amazing God. He came to us.

A few years ago, the president came to our town. I had to take a different route to work—secret service agents blocked the street I normally travel —no one was going to get close to the president even though he came to our city to meet his constituents.

I’ve been to rock concerts. Big, intimidating men stand guard by the stage. The person I paid to see does not intend to meet me.

That makes God very different.

The baby in the manger is the image of a God who reaches out to humanity. As Jesus laughs and hugs the children, heals the sick, speaks to women, touches the leper He embodies God’s deep love for humanity. God’s love is for everyone. Jesus made that clear as He reached out to everyone.

Jesus exemplified grace and mercy to the woman caught in adultery, the thief on the cross and the woman at the well. Christ’s message was grace. The first place you find Jesus is in a feed trough. Christ came to those who hunger for something more. His call is, Come and be satisfied.

If the thought of coming to God makes you shy or uneasy, relax. God wants a relationship with you so badly; He came to you. Are you worried you aren’t worthy? Relax, you aren’t and God knows that. That’s why He sent Jesus. Are you concerned about your past; is there some deep, dark, embarrassing sin that only you know? God already knows. He knew when He sent Jesus—in fact, that’s why Jesus came.

God planted Himself in the middle of humanity. The invisible became visible as a display of His love for people everywhere. That baby in the manger was a gift to you from God.

If you know God and think He’s disappointed in you because you’ve failed; God isn’t about to take back His gift! If you think you’ve done too much, gone too far, waited too long—you haven’t—take the gift today.   God sent THE best gift that first Christmas. It’s yours for the taking.

Father, thank you for reaching out to me! Thank You for your love. Help me share that to those around me today.

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No Room in the Inn?

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At that time, Augustus Caesar sent an order that all people in the countries under Roman rule must list their names in a register. This was the first registration; it was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to their own towns to be registered.

 So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David.  Joseph went there because he was from the family of David.  Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was now pregnant. While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough. Luke 2:1-7 (NCV)

There are some people conspicuously absent from the story of Jesus’ birth—the innkeepers. The Bible tells us nothing about the people who provided the barnyard space for this little, familiar family.  They, assuming it was a couple, were as nice as anyone else you’d meet; we have no reason to believe otherwise. They were busy. The extra people coming to Bethlehem for the census created a number of logistical problems, I’m sure.  Mary and Joseph were just 2 more faces.

I’m sure the innkeepers recognized that Mary was great with child. With all the rooms occupied, what solution was there—kick someone else out just for two kids who didn’t plan well? That’s not good business. There was some space—not in the inn—but close by. Not in the space created for people, but in the space created for animals.

Mary, a teenager, gave birth for the first time, by herself, away from home, in a livestock pen. That makes me want to cry just thinking of it. I work in a hospital, with all kinds of medical advancements, epidurals for pain control and posh surroundings where women have their babies. I can’t imagine having to give birth, for the first time, alone, in a barn. I’m not sure if Joseph was much help.

I have no firsthand experience with pregnancy, but I live in the farmland. I played in the barn as a little kid. Barns stink. Barns are dusty, dirty, stinky places—not the place for a human to give birth.

That is where Jesus was born.

It’s easy to read over the part about the inn. We are so familiar with the manger. We see it in all its Away In a Manger sweetness that we forget the Son of God was turned away before He technically arrived.

When I was younger, I was sure the innkeeper, had they known it was Jesus who was about to be born, would have booted someone else out to give Mary and Joseph a room.

Now that I’m older, I’m not so sure.

Even though I know who Jesus is, still relegate Him to the stable now and then, while we allow many other things to have a room in my life. Career, education, family, friends, things that are important—things, which are all a part of the daily life—manage to take up well prepared and sometimes lavish rooms in the inn of my life while Jesus is sent out to the barn.

It’s not always tangible things. The emotional hurts of the past, resentment, and bitterness can take up lodging and push Jesus out into the stable.

Do I love Jesus? YES! YES! YES! Has He spent some time in the stable of my life? Sadly, yes.

Sometimes, I send Jesus to the barn because it’s easier to have Him out there instead of in my face, reminding me of what is really important. I have my own agenda and sometimes, frankly, Jesus would take up the space I have planned for something else.

As I read this familiar story, I’m reminded, I must intentionally make room every day for Jesus. It’s easy to allow the inn to fill to capacity with lesser things. Saving room for this little baby who changed the world, is a daily, intentional task.

Father today help me prioritize the needful and important things, but as I do that remind me of THE most important thing, apart from Christ I am nothing. I get the chance to be the inn keeper each day, help me to not turn You away, just to make room for lesser, unfulfilling things. Thank you for sending Jesus to us.

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Noticing the Silence

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And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.  She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them…. They (the shepherds) hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.  All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished… Luke 2:6-7,16-18 (NLT)

My parents were older when I was born; dad was 43 and mom was 42. I owe them an apology. Often as I sit in the silence of my home, I think of my mom. When my mom was the age I am now, she had an 10-year-old running around; me. I was a noisy kid. I talked all the time I wasn’t singing. I don’t know how she did it. Now I understand those demands to play outside, or to go to my room and “be quiet!”

My mom was a saint.

I enjoy silence. I work in a noisy place. There is always commotion; always the noise of people, machines, metal containers on wire racks clatter in the halls and beepers alarm. Sometimes the OR is so noisy I can’t hear the person speaking to me above the din. Every now and then, a hush falls on the operating room—it’s disconcerting, sometimes ominous. As welcome as the silence is, it is out of place in the OR.

Silence has a way of getting your attention.

Bethlehem was bustling. It was time for the census. That is why Joseph and Mary had come the night Jesus was born. Given the choice, I’m sure Mary would have stayed in Nazareth.   The hotels were booked.   The traffic was heavy. Bethlehem was busy and no doubt noisy. I’m sure the people who called Bethlehem home, noticed the noise the travelers brought with them.

Jesus is born. Immanuel: God comes to be with his people.   It happened so quietly the people of Bethlehem would have missed it completely had it not been for some shepherds running through town telling a story of angels, and Good News and some baby in a manger.

Jesus came in silence. He came in silence to a world so busy and set on its own course, He was unnoticed.

Have you taken any time this Christmas season to see the Savior? You may have noticed some beautiful lights. You may have heard some wonderful carols. Have you seen the little baby asleep in the manger? Have you taken a moment to wonder what God was up to that night when He came to the earth He created in the form of a little, helpless baby?

Have you noticed the silence?

Silence gets your attention.   Let Jesus get your attention today. Take a moment away from your activities to see God’s plan. Let the silence point you to the deep, deep love of God who became flesh to dwell among us. God knew sin had moved man past the point of man’s ability to return; so God came to man when He sent Jesus.

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven. No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive him still, The dear Christ enters in. (P. Brooks: 1868)

Father, help me slow down and see Your amazing gift of love this Christmas.

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Christmas Obedience

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This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a Son, and you are to name him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her Son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT)

One of the greatest challenges of a teacher is remembering what it was like to be a student. If you have children, this is a familiar situation. You can tie your shoes without thinking. Buttoning your shirt and putting your shirt on right side out is no big feat. A child must learn that skill. Sometimes it’s excruciating to watch.

How can something so easy be so difficult? It’s because you know how. You’ve had the practice. Someone waited and let you learn. Now it’s automatic—you can do it without thinking.

Meet Joseph.

Joseph had not read the Christmas story when Mary told him she was pregnant. He was a young carpenter with an even younger fiancé who was telling him some cockamamie story about an angel, the Son of God, the Holy Spirit and her pregnant virginity.

That was all he knew.

I’m sure he had been in the Temple and had heard the prophecies about the Messiah. I’m just as sure those were external words—Joseph never thought he’d be part of the Messiah’s life. He was, after all, a carpenter in a little town.

An engagement in Joseph’s day was a big deal. The contract was established—breaking it was scandalous. It’s obvious Joseph loved Mary. Instead of shaming her, he decided to handle the matter quietly. Perhaps it was because the story she was telling was so outrageous. Maybe it was because he couldn’t wrap his head around the events. Certainly, everyone would suspect him as the father regardless of, or because of, Mary’s crazy story.

Joseph—confused, sad, off-balance, trying to decide how to handle this situation— receives a visit from an angel. That would make you feel better—right? Honestly, what would you think in that situation? Would you think you were hallucinating, exhausted, or too emotional?

Remember, Joseph still had not read this story.

I can tell you if an angel showed up in my office now, he’d have to do better than, “Fear not.” That would freak me out. You would freak out, too.

The angel explains the situation. He tells Joseph to marry Mary. The text treats this as so matter of fact, it’s almost invisible. The angel told Joseph he would be the earthly father of the Messiah.

Ok dads, what went through your head when your wife told you, “You’re going to be a father.” Did you feel intimidated, overwhelmed, even a bit frightened that you wouldn’t be a good dad or you didn’t know enough to raise a child?

Imagine being told you were the one picked to raise God’s Son—the Savior of the world.

Joseph—the obedient man in the face of a crazy circumstance. What a display of faith.

He was willing to change his plans to align himself with God’s plan. He was a person, just like you and me. Twice, he totally rearranged his life in obedience to God’s plan.

After looking at Joseph, I look at myself. I’ve spent years kicking and screaming—begging God for something less than what He wanted to give me. Frightened that if I surrendered, I’d lose control and end up somewhere uncomfortable.

Here in this familiar story is an example of quiet obedience. The kind of obedience that asks for more than you are able to give—but sustains and protects you in the oddest and most extreme of circumstances.

Obedience—it’s an underrated character trait in this DYI culture. In the face of the unknown, God simply asks the believer for faith and obedience in His good plan.

Father, thank You for the examples of people—people just like me—living life—not knowing the end of the story. Help me learn from their example. Teach me the value of obedience and faith in Your plan for me—even when it seems outrageous. Help me rest in Your loving care.

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My Christmas Duty

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Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV)

In my culture, there is an unspoken list of “Christmas duties.” It’s my “Christmas duty” to give gifts to those who give gifts to me. It’s my “Christmas duty” to send Christmas cards to friends and family (an obligation I NEVER fulfill—so, please, don’t feel snubbed when your card doesn’t arrive).  It’s my “Christmas duty” to attend church activities, make yummy snacks and food, to decorate my home and to make merry.

With the exception of the card thing, I can fulfill all my Christmas duties—usually with a happy and willing heart.   As I re-read this all-too-familiar story, I saw another Christmas duty—undeniably the most important.

As you quickly read over the angel-shepherd scene, pause for a moment. Ask yourself the question, “Why is this scene part of the story?” Writers always try to condense down their writing to the essential parts of the story. What is essential about this scene? What would happen if this scene was left out of the Christmas story? What if the shepherds just watched their sheep that night? What if the angels had kept the Good News of great joy to themselves?

As I contemplated these verses, uneasiness settled over me. Had I read this all my life and missed the point?

The shepherds would have continued to watch their sheep that night—just like every other night of their lives. The first Christmas night was like any other night to those shepherds living out in the field, keeping watch over their flocks. The angel appeared, and kindly said, “Do not be afraid,” and then continued to tell them, Good News of great joy for everyone—a Savior is born!

Is my prime “Christmas duty” to be an angel to all the shepherds I meet each day?

As believers, we have Good News of great joy—a Savior is waiting with arms open wide for anyone who will come. What if the angels stayed in heaven that night—joyful and rejoicing in the Savior’s birth—but didn’t bring the Good to earth? The apostle Paul asked the same question years later.  As a believer, it’s my duty to TELL the Good News.

You and I meet people every day who are watching over their flocks oblivious to the Good News—there is something better—there is a Savior born for all people.  Watching their flocks is all they will do, unless they know there is something better.

The angels were unable to keep this Good News to themselves.  That is a great example for you and me. News this great deserves celebration. It deserves telling—shouting—proclaiming!

A SAVIOR IS BORN!

The Savior can change your never-ending days of simply watching over your flocks into something glorious. He has come to bring peace. He has come to show goodwill. He has come for everyone!

That is the Good News the angels brought to earth. It was the news they couldn’t help but shout!

Make me an angel to some shepherd today!

Father, spark the glory of Your coming to earth as a baby in my heart. Make that joy overflow. Help me be an angel to the shepherds I meet each day.

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Christmas Greetings

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Christmas is 10 days away!

The sheep is my favorite character in this cartoon!

To the winners of the November contest—if you responded to my request for your address, your book is on the way. Some have all ready received their copy of one of my books. A couple of people haven’t respond to my request for your mailing address. Check your email!

Special, SPECIAL, thanks to all who have purchased copies of my books.

I’ve made things to sell in the past—flower arrangements, wreathes and centerpieces—but for some reason selling my books is so much more personal. My gratitude is heartfelt! All are available on Amazon and would make great gifts—especially Ozzy’s book A Clever Disguise—it’s priced for gift giving and perfect for the person who loves dogs but might be put off by religion—it’s a book about grace!

I’ve been pondering the angels and tomorrow there will be a new post!

In the mean time—catch up on the posts from the past week!

Monday Isn’t that what makes Christmas grand?

Tuesday Jesus has some skeletons in His family closet.

Wednesday I like a good Three Wise Men cartoon.

Thursday Jesus is disturbing.

Friday I saved the rest for Easter.

See you tomorrow!

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For Those Who Fear

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Good Christian Men, Rejoice!

I’ve sung this song for as long as I can remember. I don’t even need the hymnal. For me, Christmas has always been a celebration of Christ coming to earth. I always stopped with that. I saved the rest for Easter. This year I’ve been struck with the reason Christ came; to bring us peace, both here in this life and eternally by dying for our sin and reconciling us to God.

The first verse starts out with the great NEWS! Christ is born today. It is the news the angels proclaimed to the shepherds. News so great the heavenly host, all the angels in heaven, filled the sky to shout it. No news has been greater. This news has never been needed more than it is today.

Once you hear this news, the response can only be JOY! JOY! Christ has opened heaven’s door, and that offers endless bliss. Christ was born for this. He first appears to our eyes as a baby, but don’t be deceived. John talks about who this baby is. No ordinary baby, Jesus existed before time and is now the light that shines in the darkness to show men the way to God.

Peace! Peace!   Now you need not fear the grave. In the text of this song, it’s death. I don’t think it’s wrong to think of “grave” as an adjective and not a noun in this sentence. There are many grave circumstances in our daily lives; now, because of Christ, we need not fear the grave things. There is a never-ending smorgasbord of things to fear these days; from the superficial to the weighty. Watching TV the other day I found out my armpits may not be beautiful. Really? I also saw a tragedy beyond understanding. Now, more than ever, fear is skulks just beyond what we can see, and festers in our imaginations. Then, on occasion, fear grows beyond what we can imagine and like a punch to the gut we are left speechless and trembling; wondering how to continue, questioning everything we thought we knew as safe. Christ’s call is: PEACE. In this carol, He’s a baby and not speaking. Later, Jesus will speak “PEACE” quiet often.

Jesus was born to save; both eternal salvation and salvation from the daily assault of this fallen world.

Christ’s call is for everyone. That is the characteristic of Christ I admire most and, sadly, emulate least. Christ came for everyone: from the shepherd to the Magi. There is always room for one more who hears the NEWS to experience the JOY and PEACE; to ANYONE who believes in Him, He gives the right to become a child of God.

With heart and soul and voice – REJOICE. Christ was born. He was born to make a way to heaven. He was born to bring us peace. He’s calling you.

Father, as I hear the pain and fear in the voices of those who have suffered loss, I think of all of the suffering going on in the world. We live in a tragic, hopeless world. One You didn’t plan. I know Your heart breaks to see this fallen world. Thank you for sending The Light, Christ, to shine in our darkness. Thank you for the joy and peace that can only come from knowing You. Help our pain drive us to the only source of true Joy and peace; Your Son, Jesus. Thank you for sending us a savior, we are utterly lost without Him.

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